Guitarist Akira Takasaki and drummer Munetaka Higuchi first played together in the mid-'70s in a band called Lazy and later formed Loudness with vocalist Minoru Niihara and bass player Masayoshi Yamashita. After releasing some very successful albums in Japan, Atlantic Records came along and the band's international "career" began with 1985's "Thunder in the East." Of course most metalheads remember this album for the heavy metal hit "Wock and Woll Cwazy Nights." Besides the fact that it was very humorous, I remember I couldn't help but sing along either, so the album received lots of play time. Before this, however, the band was already a hot item in their homeland of Japan. "Disillusion," which was their first album to actually get released in America, was actually the band's fourth chart-topping release in Japan. Unfortunately when faced with a plan to conquer the America charts, Loudness were gradually forced to alter their sound by clueless record executives. The classic lineup came to an end with the firing of vocalist Niihara and the hiring of American-born singer Mike Vescera for 1989's "Soldier of Fortune." Of course since the novelty of the Japanese accent was gone, so was the band's following. Guitarist Akira Takasaki continued on with the band through the 90's with success in his homeland. Unfortunately most Loudness discs are now relegated to Japanese import status only.

Disillusion Loudness-Disillusion (Denon) 1984

1. "Crazy Doctor" (4:13)
2. "Esper" (3:45)
3. "Butterfly" (5:16)
4. "Revelation" (4:18)
5. "Exploder"-instrumental (2:29)
6. "Dream Fantasy" (4:33)
7. "Milky Way" (4:17)
8. "Satisfaction Guaranteed" (3:39)
9. "Ares' Lament" (5:30)

Just an all around great metal disc, but I don't know if I will ever get use to the Japanese lyrics. Sort of weird, but then again I can't understand most death metal vocalists either and they are supposedly using English. Still with the possible exception of "Thunder in the East," this may be the best Loudness disc that I have heard yet. The music is sort of a mix of Judas Priest and Accept with some Eddie Van Halen solos thrown into the mix as well. Also have to add that I really dig the Japanese writing on the cover and the obi.

Thunder in the East Loudness-Thunder in the East (Denon) 1985

1. "Crazy Nights" (4:04)
2. "Like Hell" (3:44)
3. "Heavy Chains" (4:18)
4. "Get Away" (3:55)
5. "We Could Be Together" (4:35)
6. "Run for Your Life" (3:48)
7. "Clockwork Toy" (3:55)
8. "No Way Out" (4:01)
9. "The Lines are Down" (4:57)
10. "Never Change Your Mind" (4:09)

Probably the band's most well known U.S. release. Any metalhead who grew up in the 80's knows "Wock an Woll Cwazy Nights." Seriously though, being that this was one of their biggest albums, why the heck is it so hard to find? Geez, stupid eBay bidders are paying upwards of $30 for this thing. It's not that rare. Go to or one of those import metal sellers and buy it for $19.99 outright. Anyhow, "Thunder in the East" is a good metal album in the tradition of Priest and especially Accept. Some of these chunky rhythms, especially on "Crazy Nights," could have been on any Accept album at the time as well. Lots of shred guitar solos as well. Wock on!

Lightning Strikes Loudness-Lightning Strikes (Atco) 1986

1. "Let it Go" (4:13)
2. "Dark Desire" (4:19)
3. "1000 Eyes" (4:35)
4. "Face to Face" (3:49)
5. "Who Knows" (4:02)
6. "Ashes in the Sky" (6:02)
7. "Black Star Oblivion" (3:55)
8. "Street Life Dream" (4:28)
9. "Complication" (4:00)

Lightning Strikes is the follow-up to the band's first American "hit." Who can forget "Wock and Woll Cwazy Nights." Seriously though, this is actually a better album than the aforementioned "Thunder in the East." Veteran knob turner Max Norman is brought in once again to spice things up a bit and make our favorite band from Japan more Westerner friendly. Max has done amazing things for bands like Dirty Looks, Megadeth, Ozzy, etc., so why not Loudness. Well luckily Max did not mess with one thing about Loudness, that is Minoru Hinara's signature vocals. Sure, everyone got a chuckle out of hearing the thick Japanese accent, but it also gave the music a certain charm and charisma. "Let It Go" is probably the band's attempt at a radio hit but the rest of the album rocks hard. "Ashes in the Sky" and "Complication" are as good as the band's early material. "Face to Face" and "Black Star Oblivion" are both excellent full-throttle speed metal numbers. "Street Life Dream" is a nice melodic number. Overall, "Lightning Strikes" is a good 80's metal album and possibly the band's best made for America disc. Unfortunately it will be their last as record company executives in search of bigger and better things (ie. more money) would begin to stick their hands in a bit to much and totally ruin the band's charm. This disc was given to me as a gift. Thanks Jeff.

Hurricane Eyes Loudness-Hurricane Eyes (Atco) 1987

1. "S.D.I." (4:15)
2. "This Lonely Heart" (4:08)
3. "Rock 'N' Roll Gypsy" (4:22)
4. "In My Dreams" (4:30)
5. "Take Me Home" (3:16)
6. "Strike of the Sword" (3:50)
7. "Rock This Way" (4:07)
8. "In This World Beyond" (4:26)
9. "Hungry Heart" (4:08)
10. "So Lonely" (4:43)

Produced by Eddie Kramer, who is famous for producing KISS and Frehley's Comet. Despite this, "Hurricane Eyes" doesn't sound much different from the Max Norman produced "Lighning Strikes." "Hurricane Eyes" starts off good with "S.D.I." a fast, shredding number that is one of the finest the band had written to this point. "This Lonely Heart" continues to impress, then all of the sudden the disc come to a crashing halt with "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy". This song is a keyboard laced pop-metal piece of crap. Minuro's vocals just doesn't fit this kind of wimpy radio rock. Next up is a power ballad "In My Dreams" that contains some excellent soloing towards the end. "Take Me Home" is another fast and heavy Loudness track that could fit on any of the past two discs. The main guitar riff from "Strike the Sword" reminds me of Motley Crue's "To Young For Your Love." "Rock this Way" and "Hungry Heart" are both mid paced heavy metal numbers. The disc finishes off with "So Lonely" another syrupy pop ballad. This would be the last disc for vocalist Minuro Niihara who apparently was given the boot in favor of a more Western friendly vocalist. (i.e. someone without a Japanese accent.) Too bad, because as I have said before, it is Minuro's vocals, along with Akira's guitar antics that give Loudness their originality and charm.

Here's a bit of info I recently found out:

"So Lonely" was originally a song called "Ares' Lament" from the "Law of the Devil's Land" album.

Gregg Giuffria (Angel/Giuffria/House of Lords) played keyboards on this cd.

Tod Howarth (Frehley's Comet) and David Glen Eisely (Giuffria) contributed background vocals.

Soldiers of Fortune Loudness-Soldiers of Fortune (Atco) 1989

1. Soldier of Fortune (3:53)
2. You Shook Me (4:19)
3. Danger of Love (4:35)
4. Twenty-Five Days (3:49)
5. Red Light Shooter (4:02)
6. Running for Cover (6:02)
7. Lost Without Your Love (3:55)
8. Faces in the Fire (4:28)
9. Long After Midnight (4:00)
10. Demon Disease (4:43)

This sounds like any number of American commercial metal bands from the late 80's. The song writing isn't bad and the musicianship is spectacular, but somehow without the charisma of Minoru Niihara, this is just a generic pop metal album. I still can't understand why this Japanese metal band would hire an American vocalist. I wonder if it was the record company pressure or if they thought that by getting an American singer they would gain more acceptance in the U.S. Well, I have to assume if was the former as the later did not happen. New vocalist Michael Viscera has a solid voice, but sometimes even a good voice cannot replace the original when that original had a unique style and sound. Michael has also been the vocalist for Obsession and later went on to sing for Yngwie Malmsteen. This disc was given to me as a gift.

Loudness-On the Prowl (Atco) 1991

1. "Down 'n' Dirty" (4:36)
2. "Playing Games" (3:47)
3. "Love Toys" (4:02)
4. "Never Again" (5:01)
5. "Deadly Player" (4:47)
6. "Take It or Leave It" (4:31)
7. "Girl" (4:20)
8. "Long Distance" (4:15)
9. "In the Mirror" (3:34)
10. "Sleepless Nights" (4:39)
11. "Find a Way" (7:31)

First of all, I have to say this is one of the coolest album covers in the Loudness discography. The artwork gives the feel of a progressive metal band and really fits the Japanese image quite well. The music, on the other hand, is not progressive metal, but rather is pop metal of a surprisingly high quality. After hearing "Soldiers of Fortune" I assumed the worst. What I got was the best. Vocalist Michael Viscera really is fitting into the band at this point and has even helped (or taken over) writing lyrics. "Deadly Player" was originally a song called "Lonely Player" from the "Devil Soldier" album. "In the Mirror" may also be a rewritten version of a song from "Birthday Eve".

Heavy Metal Hippies Loudness-Heavy Metal Hippies (WEA Japan) 1994

1. "Howling Rain" (6:59)
2. "Freedom" (7:13)
3. "222" -instrumental (2:37)
4. "Eyes of a Child" (6:34)
5. "Electric Kisses" (4:55)
6. "House of Freaks" (5:03)
7. "Paralyzed" (5:16)
8. "Desperation Desecration" (5:35)
9. "Light in the Distance" (4:56)
10. "Broken Jesus" (7:37)

One of these days I am going to learn NOT to listen to what other people say about music, but rather to give it a chance myself. So many people told me that the mid-90's Loudness albums were nothing more than cheesy alternative crap. That is so NOT true! 'Heavy Metal Hippies' certainly is not 'Thunder in the East Part 2,' but it's not crap either. This disc is one of the heaviest discs in the Loudness catalogue. The songs, for the most part, give off a mid pace Heaven & Hell-era Sabbath vibe. A few songs pick up the pace a bit. ""222" has a heavy black album era Metallica vibe. Throughout the axe-work is stupendous, as is the rhythm work. The vocals were another surprise for me. Former EZO vocalist Yamada Masaki has a great voice and also retains the Japanese accent that made many of the band's early albums so interesting. Anyhow, a fellow collector and friend picked up this Japanese import for me at a cd show in Chicago. Encasing the cd and the colorful cover art is a 'sparkle' jewel case, which is pretty unique. The clear plastic case is speckled with silver glitter. Pretty cool.

Spiritual Canoe Loudness-Spiritual Canoe (Columbia/Japan) 2001

1. "The Winds of Victory" (4:41)
2. "The Hate That Fills My Lonely Cells" (6:00)
3. "The End of Earth" (4:29)
4. "Stay Wild" (5:48)
5. "The Seven Deadly Sins" (5:31)
6. "Picture Your Life" (3:20)
7. "How Many More Time" (5:40)
8. "Touch My Heart" (5:10)
9. "Climaxxx" (4:05)
10. "A Stroke of Lightning" (5:13)
11. "Never Forget You" (5:00)
12. "Spiritual Canoe" -instrumental (1:32)
13. "The Power of Love" (7:06)

I had to hear this disc. While I have not really invested much into the more recent Loudness discs, a reunited original line-up was reason to rejoice. After all, it was Minoru and Akiri that gave Loudness their unique sound. Another reason to check this disc out was the rumor that the band was playing real heavy metal, not the alterna-crap Akiri had been playing under the Loudness name. Well, this rumor is true for the most part. This is a great heavy metal album, although their are some experiments here and there. "Touch My Heart" has a Led Zeppelin-vibe going on. "How Many More Times" has Minoru rapping in Japanese over a funk driven groove tune, which is actually pretty funny, but not fitting of Loudness. This is more the exception than the rule on this disc however. Songs like "Stay Wild," "Seven Deadly Sins" and "The End of the Earth" really could have fit onto any of the early Loudness albums, before they were forced to go into the more pop metal direction. "The End of the Earth" is actually an incredible speed metal number. Lots of guitar hero shredding on this disc as well, but as has always been the case with Akiri, not at the expense of good song writing. I actually picked this one up in a trade from a friend who couldn't handle the few modern elements that are mixed into the music.

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